Queens Singers Voice Their Diversity

Article, podcast and photo by Yasmeen Persaud

In the heart of Queens is Liberty Avenue—an east-west thoroughfare lined with halal carts, roti shops and West-Indian restaurants. On the sides of the buildings, and posted at the counters of mini pastry shops, are flyers that advertise local singers in the West-Indian dominated neighborhood of Richmond Hill.

Every Monday night at Gemini’s Lounge, three international singers entertain the local regulars by singing Indian music in Hindi in performances that represent the breaking of cultural barriers and the diversity of their borough.

Singer Mohammed Javed smiles as he prepares for his next performance, which is his favorite: “Ve Maahi,” from the Bollywood film “Kesari.”

One of these singers is Kalvin Eno, who says if West-Indian singers sometimes face resistance from native Hindi speakers, it’s nothing to the reaction he gets as a Nigerian-born person singing Bollywood-style music.

“It doesn’t really matter with the color. It’s about interest. If you have interest in something and you believe in something, I’m pretty sure you can do it,” Eno said. “I’ve been singing here and a lot of people come out here seeing a black man seeing Indian songs, and secondly I’m not from Guyana, Trinidad, The West-Indies. They’re surprised with seeing someone of my color, and you know, they love it.”

Listen to the entire podcast below: 


Leave a Reply